I Am Kloot
Peter Jobson, bass player from Manchester three-piece and indie darlings I Am Kloot, is, to paraphrase Morrissey, a most charming man.
Peter Jobson, bass player from Manchester three-piece and indie darlings I Am Kloot, is, to paraphrase Morrissey, a most charming man. During our interview he rattles off quirky sentences in his lovely Mancunian brogue, throwing in jokes so dry often a minute or two passes before I catch on and cackle like a loon. Much like I Am Kloot as a whole and their 2010 breakthrough LP, the beautiful Sky At Night , he is incisive, witty, a little dark and rather captivating. I come away from the phone, as the listener comes away from the album, in a sort of dreamy crush.
But enough about me and my silly schoolgirl affectations (for once). A bit of background. I Am Kloot formed in Manchester back in 1999, and were part of a(nother) wave of Manchester bands causing ripples at the time headed by Elbow, Doves and Badly Drawn Boy. The lads are particularly close to Elbow in particular, with Elbow members Craig Potter and Guy Garvey producing last year's Sky At Night.
And what an album. Universally critically-acclaimed, it's an acoustic voyage from backstreet pubs and clubs to the sea, the stars and back again. The ten indie-folk tracks spin mournful tales of the ghosts of girlfriends past, wry tunes about alcoholics hustling that last pint, introspective songs about a childhood long forgotten. Did Jobson know when they were recording they had something special?
"This recording process, it was just the most enjoyable experience we've had," he says, emphatic. "Really, really creative, and we had 18 months to record the LP, so we weren't pushed for time. Because since we recorded our first LP, I mean we had our whole lives to record that LP, and then we've been gigging solidly for ten years… this was the first time we sat down and said, 'Well, we're doing fuck all, let's make the best LP we can.'
"And," he continues, "at the time we had no record label, no manager, no money or anything, and all we had were songs, our instruments, and two good friends that had a studio and were up for recording with us. So it was like - and I don't want to sound like a hippie or anything - but it was a very beautiful sort of lifetime moment that we'll remember."
The 'lifetime moment' was of course augmented by having Potter and Garvey on board. "We've kind of been best mates and survived by sort of mutually helping each other out," he goes on cheerily. "Guy produced our first LP, the one that came out in 2000 [Natural History], and we've wanted to work with him really ever since. But because they've been doing stuff and we've been doing stuff, it's only really been that first LP and this last LP that we've done where we've really found the time to record together.
"It was brilliant, 'cause you get to record with not only Guy and Craig, who're really talented musicians and recording engineers, but they're also like your best friends. It's often like you get a producer in and it's a bit like a one night stand - you don't really know them, but you gotta kind of trust them."
Nicely put - and it's a trust that's paid off, with Sky At Night being nominated in 2010 for the prestigious and highly cool Mercury Prize. "To be honest with you, the first time we went down when we heard we'd been announced that we were part of it, it was a bit like the rabbit stuck in the headlights," Jobson laughs, "like we'd been run over by a car.
"But all the media interest, which, even though we've been going for ten years, we weren't used to that kind of, I don't know, attention, photography, red carpet, all that kind of thing, that was pretty fucking weird."
As it would be, when you go from underground gigs to nationwide radio play in the space of a few months. But like the 'ard Northerners they are, they took it all in stride. "By the time we went down for the actual awards ceremony we'd kind of got our heads round it and it was really, really enjoyable. The rest of the bands that were nominated were all fucking great bands with all really good LPs [the prize eventually went to arty darlinks The xx], so it was a bit of an honour, really.
"The way they do it, it's for the best LP… I like the way it's judged, it doesn't matter who the fuck you are, that's not the reason you're considered. That for us has been really great, 'cause even though we've been going for ten years that's really the first time we've been played on the radio in this country. So it's a bit of a new day for us."
The positive, almost poetic way that Jobson has of phrasing things - calling their increased opportunities a 'new day' and recording the album a 'beautiful' thing, is disarming. But he balances with the nuts-and-bolts plain speaking of someone who's done the hard yards. "Most people who come and see 'Kloot have come to see us because we've been playing live and one of their friends has told them that we're worth seeing; it's all been word of mouth. Whereas [the Mercury] has helped things sort of flow a bit.
"We always thought," he adds, "that if we could get enough people to hear us, and we could get enough people to come and see us play, that they would keep coming back. And that's proved to be true, so hopefully there'll be a lot of people that will hear 'Kloot and be interested in stuff we've done before. We've got a really good little fan base in England. If it wasn't for that, we probably would've been fucked."
The word of mouth has spread to Australia, with 'Kloot lined up to play Playground Weekender. It will be their first time in Australia. "We've really, really wanted to visit Australia for a long, long time… we've got so many good Australian friends, and we know so many people who have toured there. Pretty much everybody I know who's gone on holiday, they've all ended up living there. I'm very excited to see Melbourne," he grins.
"It's a real vindication of what we do because we've been to a lot of different countries but Australia's been the one place that we've always wanted to go but never got the chance to go because we never got a record released or we couldn't get a gig there. It's a bit of a dream come true. And you know Manchester, it's the rainiest city in England; it's just miserable as fuck. To come from Manchester in the middle of winter to go tour Australia in the summer, it's pretty damn good."
With I Am Kloot's weather finally starting to change, here's hoping we give the lads some sunshine.
I AM KLOOT play The East Brunswick Club on Thursday February 17 and Playground Weekender Saturday February 19. The crackingly good Sky At Night is out now through EMI.